Checking in, 1.14.07

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 1:11 am by Libbie

It’s been a while since I wrote, so I thought I’d bring you up to date.

Actually there is not too much to report. Al’s health continues to be relatively stable and steady. He has reduced the steroid dose by two tiny increments so far, and although he had quite bad headaches the first day of the first reduction, since then they have been okay. He said he thinks his legs feel a little bit stronger but that that might all be in his head. He has a lot of superficial (skin-deep) numbness on his right side, and he occasionally has bizarre visual episodes in his left peripheral vision, both of which are caused by the brain tumors. But most of his symptoms are just intensifications of the kinds of things he’s struggled with for years with his fibromyalgia: being very tired, needing to nap, foggy thinking, etc. Al now naps several times a day, with work or visiting periods in between.

We have, however, noticed the first sign of cognitive functions being affected. When Al writes, he sometimes inserts a word that make no sense in place of the word he really means to write. Of course, for ages he’s omitted words or made simple typos in his writing, as we all do, and the home-school teacher in me always wants to nag him to proofread his writing. He still omits words (frequently “not,” which makes a big difference in the meaning of a sentence!), but this is something different. When he wants to write a word that’s in his mind, say “freedom,” he writes a different word in stead, say “forget.” Then when he reads back over what he’s written, some of those oddities he can catch and correct, and some he can’t recognize, although he can sense that what he’s written isn’t right. This is somewhat frustrating for him, but he is taking it in stride and not getting too distressed by it, which impresses me.

We continue to chip away at Judges as time allows. Last week I had a particularly discouraging day relative to Judges, and I asked some friends to pray for my attitude toward the project. They must have done so, because yesterday Alasdair (who is helping us with Judges during January while he doesn’t have classes is only working part-time) had some extremely helpful and encouraging insights into the task that alleviated my concerns and discouragement. I’m very grateful.

Also, I have been encouraged by the worship times in church the last couple of weeks. I had felt distracted by many things on my mind and as a result sort of distant from the Lord. Therefore, I found that I didn’t have much enthusiasm for the “I love you so much, God!” type of songs. It wasn’t that I was angry at God, or thought there was a reason not to love him, just that my emotions weren’t at that place. I didn’t feel much love for God—or anyone, for that matter. I just felt emotionally and spiritually dry. So I sang along, but not with much gusto.

But when we sang songs that were less about “how much I love God” and more about how much he loves us and the amazing things he has done out of that love, I began to feel differently. The songs reminded me that God’s love for me isn’t based on whether I’m feeling warm or cold toward him; it’s based on what he has done for me. He loved mankind enough to send his son to rescue us, and that son intentionally gave up his life so that we could be rescued. That is something objective, something out there that actually happened at a point in history. It’s not trapped in my little subjective world of how I feel on a given day or month; it is part of a vastly bigger reality, and it is a truth that is firm and secure, quite apart from how I feel about it. I needed to remember that. I’m so glad that that reality isn’t affected by my emotions, and that I can depend on the truth of it as a stable rock to stand on.

Then the next week something in the worship jogged my memory of when I first realized, the spring after I turned 13, that God was real and that he had gone to unbelievable lengths to have a relationship with me. It was good to sing the rest of the songs against the backdrop of that relationship that I’ve had with God over the almost 36 years since. He’s been faithful. He’s been intimately involved in caring for me, leading me, changing me, and helping me to gradually get to know him better and better. I found that in worship I was again remembering the bigger picture—bigger than my immediate situation or emotions—but that that picture was also very personal. I can look back on a history of God’s incredible love and faithfulness, both in the great scope of human history and in the story of my own life. Both are full of marvels.

I had another paragraph started before I had to leave off writing, and now that I come back to it I realize that it has the potential to become long. So I’ll close here, post this note, and come back to the other thought another time.

Our love to you all, and prayers for the Lord’s rich blessings on you,



  1. Amy Givler said,

    January 15, 2007 at 10:49 am

    What you wrote resonates with me, Libbie. The heart of the gospel is God’s great love for us — for me — and His wooing me, His longing for relationship with me, His delight when I respond to His love. Often it takes me becoming empty and hurting to see His love. Somehow when I’m feeling full it eludes me.

  2. Mark Stone said,

    January 15, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for the detailed update. I am excited that God touched your emotional state as well as your intellectual state. He is a great God. One who cares for us “holistically.” You, Al, and your family remain in my prayers.

  3. donna b said,

    January 16, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Thank you for the update and once again sharing the Spirit’s work in your lives. Your willingness to share what you’re going through gives us all an example of what it means to follow Jesus. Your entry reminded me of John 11. I have a tendency to meditate on John 11–looking at Mary, Martha, Lazarus and especially Jesus. (have had my personal teachings from the Holy Spirit–and T Keller). When the girls send word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” it is a prayer. It is a prayer based on the love of God for them. We go to God on the basis of His unfailing love for us. This is your point–and this is the Grace and Truth we cling to; this is the grid with which we view our lives. We can’t afford to look at our circumstances or feelings to define God’s love, but His great love is the lens which defines Life. We love you and continue to keep you before the Throne of Grace. Thank you again for sharing God’s work–I need to hear it and I am always encouraged. Jesus is the Rock eternal–there is no other. love, db

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